Where we learn things, and which of these places we see as truly valuable, has always been somewhat interesting to me. As we enter adulthood and move out on our own, it is generally presumed that we’ll possess a certain skill set. That, at the very least, you can keep yourself fed and clean and that your landlord won’t throw you out because of the state of your apartment. These are skills that are important, but how exactly do we learn them?
I remember learning many of these skills as a child in my home. I learned to move past the feeling of being overwhelmed by a room that hadn’t been cleaned in several. . . months and get the job done. I went from making cookies with my dad on Sunday afternoons as a five or six-year-old to getting breakfast on for my siblings as a ten-year-old when my mom worked nights, getting home at 1:00 AM and my dad left for work at 3:00 AM. I learned through sad experience what happens when you don’t pay attention to what your clothes are made out of and you turn the iron up all the way. My time management skills were developed when, as a teenager, my siblings and I all started doing our own laundry. With up to five of us needing to get laundry done each week, keeping to a schedule was important.
All these skills are important and, I would argue, have market value. Many of the tasks I mentioned above demonstrate some pretty effective time management and reading comprehension skills, but if I said in a job interview that I’d started developing exceptional time management skills at the age of 10 because I was getting myself and my siblings ready for the day and built from there or that I had begun to develop above-average reading comprehension as early as 6 years old because I learned to read and understand recipes with my parents I would likely not get hired (my current job being an exception because of some above average supervisors). However, if I shared in that same job interview that I worked full time while pursuing my bachelor’s and master’s degree I may, in fact, get hired, because that metric for measuring time management skills is considered valuable. Additionally, a potential employer is also likely to consider that completing post-secondary education means that I developed excellent reading comprehension skills in the classroom when that is truly not the case.
I’d like to encourage you to think about this a little bit. What are some skills you learned in early life, but when you’re working to prove your value in the marketplace you have to talk about how you developed those skills as an adult?